Bookless at Madison Public Library

Ever since fire consumed the Library of Alexandria, bibliophiles have been captivated by stories of epic endings to libraries. Madison, Wisconsin recently contributed a memorable ending, answering the question: “What would happen if we cleared all the books out of the Central Library, handed the debris-strewn three-story building over to a bunch of artists, live bands, and DJs, and invited the community to a giant one-day-only party?”

The answer was Bookless, which drew more than 5,000 people to the send-off event for Madison’s now-former downtown library. The Onion’s A.V. Club posted a Bookless video by jazz/rock band Lovely Socialite that does a nice job of capturing the feel of the event and some of the art (yes, the butterflies at 4:45 are made of microfiche), including the somewhat terrifying dragon skeleton leering over the "Bibliotheque Discotheque" in the basement and the pneumatic-tube powered “Ask the Oracle” booth.

For more on Bookless, see Madison Public Library's Bookless a Hit and the MPL Foundation’s Bookless in the News.

—Marc Gartler, Madison Public Library

LibraryLab posts come courtesy of the American Library Association member interest group Library Boing Boing.


  1. I went to school almost an hour south of Madison; were I there now, I would have loved to attend this. (Of course, if I was who I was then I might have been oblivious to it.) Thanks for posting this; it looked delightful.

  2. My family attended this wonderful event!  My 10 year old son had the time of his life figuring out how to work an old microfiche, exploring the basement, asking the Oracle a question, and throwing hundreds of old card catalog cards into a big glass-walled display.   It was a really great community event.  

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